Effective August 11, 2021, masks are required in all City of Asheville buildings. 
As a park within the City of Asheville, the WNC Nature Center will require masks for visitors ages five and older in all indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. 

Open 361 Days a Year: Admissions 10:00am – 3:30pm; park closes at 4:30pm

Schools & Groups

Field Trip Information: Go Wild at the WNC Nature Center! View over 60 species of native animals, including river otters, black bears, red pandas, red and gray wolves, and a cougar! Enjoy the outdoors and get involved in STEAM at our location, or let the Nature Center come to you!

All Guided Programs are available Monday through Friday from August to April. No programs are available in May. Outreach Programs, Distance Learning Virtual Programs, and Self-guided Visits are available year-round!

Opportunities for Groups of 10 or More Students:
– Onsite Guided Programs
– Onsite Self-guided Tours
– Outreach Programs at your location
– Distance Learning Virtual Programs

Guided Onsite Tour Programs, 45 -60 Minutes

Interactive Outdoor Tours Visiting Animal Habitats at the Nature Center

Animal Comparisons

Grade Level: K
NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.1-2


Come observe the characteristics of living things, examining similar and different animal groups.

Habitats

Grade Level: 1st
NC Essential Standards: 1.L.1.1-3, 1.L.2.1-2


How are animals' needs met by different places and resources? Let's explore what makes up a habitat and how animals "choose" what type of habitat to live in.

Life Cycles

Grade Level: 2nd
NC Essential Standards: 2.L.1.1-2


Join us on an investigation of the similarities and differences of life stages for a range of species.

Locomotion

Grade Level:  3rd
NC Essential Standards: 3.L.1.1


We will try out a range of movements that wildlife uses to learn about muscles and the skeletal system of human and animals.

Adaptations

Grade Level:  4th
NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1-2.4


Groups will examine the physiology and behaviors that enable humans and animals to survive and respond to environmental change.

Zoo Ecosystems

Grade Level: 5th
NC Essential Standards: 5.L.2.1-3


Our animal habitats will be the backdrop for comparing ecosystems and animals' roles and relationships with them.

Ecosystem Interactions

Grade Level:  6th-12th
NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.1,3; 8.L.4; EEn.2.7.1-3, Bio.2.1.3


Let's explore how organisms interact with the biotic and abiotic components of biomes through live animal observations and discussion.

Career Exploration

Grade Level:  6th-12th

Learn what Nature Center staff members do and what it takes to work at a nationally accredited zoo.

Our 42-acre wildlife park houses more than 150 animals native to the mountains of North Carolina. During a self guided visit, you can explore the Nature Center at your own pace and use our animals and facilities to meet your own educational goals. Sketch the cougar, practice map reading skills, go on an animal alphabet search, or just have fun exploring! Age-appropriate scavenger hunts will be emailed upon registration.

Bringing your PreK group for a visit? Borrow a kit to enhance your self-guided tour. These kits have everything you need to engage your group in fun learning activities during your visit! Request kits when making your reservation.

Onsite Guided Program or Self-guided Tour Reservation Inquiry

Please submit the requested information to inquire about your group coming to the Nature Center. Submitting this form does not guarantee your reservation. Group rates may change without advance notice. Please email jrutherford@ashevillenc.gov to learn about self-guided tour options and to receive a quote for your group.

To schedule an onsite Guided Program or Self-guided Tour, please email jrutherford@ashevillenc.gov or use the Onsite Guided Program/Self-guided Tour Reserve Tab.

Onsite School Group Admission Fees*

Home School Groups (10+ children with reservation), Self Guided Visit:

  • City of Asheville Home School (Pre-K to 12th), $4 per student or adult
  • Non-City Resident Home School (Pre-K to 12th), $5 per student or adult
Public and Private School Groups (10+ children with reservation), Self Guided Visit:
  • City of Asheville Schools (Pre-K to 12th), $4 per student or adult
  • Non-City Resident Schools (Pre-K to 12th), $5 per student or adult
  • School teachers, teacher assistants, and professional bus drivers free

Guided Program Fee (add this to the Admission Fee above)

  • $1 per program per student/adult chaperone
 
*Friends of the WNC Nature Center Membership benefits cannot be redeemed for free admission for students during group visits.

Auditorium programs are offered year round and include meeting two live animal guests! 
Pre-recorded programs are also offered year round and can be tailored to fit the needs of your group.

Outreach Small Group Programs

Run, Slither, Swim
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: Pre-K-K
NC Essential Standards: APL-3, APL-4, HPD-4, LDC-8, K.P.1.2

There are a lot of different types of animals in this world, and they all move in special ways! We’ll be slithering, fluttering, and crawling around the room in animal fashion, discovering an author who writes about how animals travel, and meeting a special animal guest in this program focusing on movement styles, restrictions, and abilities of various animals.

From Eggs to Legs
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: Pre-K-2nd
NC Essential Standards: APL-8, LDC-8, CD-14, K.L.1.2, 1.L.1.2

From egg to tadpole to frog, the life cycle of our amphibian friend is often the first look at metamorphosis in the classroom. We'll explore the life cycles of frogs and butterflies during this interactive program. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet a live animal guest.

Fact or Myth
(30-45 minutes)

Grade Level: K-5th
NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.1, 1.L.1., 2.L.2.2, 4.L.1, 1.H.1.2

We have some amazing wild neighbors and some equally amazing rumors about who they are, where they live, and what they can do. We will be on our feet and moving around during our wildlife true or false game, where we'll discuss snakes to cougars, black bears to box turtles.

Forest Sounds
(30-45 minutes)

Grade Level: K-5th
NC Essential Standards: 1.L.1.1, 4.L.1.2, 5.L.2.3

Our sense of sight is key to our feeling of security; we often fear things we only hear. Learn why animals make different sounds and what you can interpret just by listening. Then we'll use natural instruments to create a class soundscape for a group story.

Animal Habitats
(45 minutes)

Grade Level: K-5th
NC Essential Standards: 1.L.1.1-2, 1.L.2.2, 2.L.1.1-2, 5.L.2.1, 5.L.2.3

A place to live is essential to survival. Some animals have adapted to living in many different types of habitats, and some have very specific requirements. During this hands-on program, students will learn about habitats such as streams, meadows, and forests, as well as what animals live in them.

Catch a Question
(30-45 minutes)

Grade Level: 2nd-6th
NC Essential Standards below.

There's no such thing as a bad question! Participants will have the opportunity to get up and move around as we toss a ball covered in animal questions, as well as explore biofacts from relevant critters.

Four themes are available
Reptiles: 2.L.1.1, 2.L.1.2, 4.L.1.2, 4.L.1.3, 5.L.2.3
Amphibians: 2.L.1.1, 2.L.1.2, 4.L.1.2, 4.L.1.3, 5.L.2.3
Insects: 2.L.1.1, 2.L.1.2, 4.L.1.3, 5.L.2.3
Mammals: 2.L.1.1, 4.L.1.2, 4.L.1.3, 5.L.2.3

Animals After Dark
(45 minutes)

Grade Level: 4th-8th
NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.2, 4.L.1.3, 5.L.2.3, 6.L.2.3, 8.L.3.2

Ever wondered about the animals that become active after we go to sleep? We'll learn about opossums, owls, bats, and more during this nocturnal animal program. Students will learn to identify animal sounds, explore biofacts, and be introduced to a live animal guest.

Owl Pellet Dissection
(60 minutes)

Grade Level: 6th-8th
NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2, 8.L.3

There's a lot you can learn from leftovers! This raptor-based program will teach the basics of owl biology, as well as have them work in pairs or small groups to dissect a pellet collected from one of the Nature Center's birds of prey! We will also learn how to identify the bones that we find inside, as well as meet a live animal guest.

(Due to materials, this program costs $3 per participant.)

Tracks and Scat
(60 minutes)

Grade Level: K-12th
NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2, 8.L.3

Studying what an animal leaves behind is a great way to learn about the lifestyle and habits of local wildlife. Students will rotate among three stations to play animal track games and design their own track guides, as well as work in small groups to study scat models.

Auditorium Program - Fur, Feathers, and Scales

Grade Level: Variable
Program Length: 60 minutes
An opportunity for students to learn the importance of preservation and conservation through a one-hour presentation (45-minute presentation/15-minute Q&A) with two live animal guests and bio-facts, including animal skeletons, skins, feathers, skulls, and more. 

All Virtual School Group Programs are offered Monday through Friday, 10am to 3pm. There is a limit of 30 students per program, and programs always involve meeting a live animal guest!

Virtual Auditorium programs are offered year round and include meeting two live animal guests! 
Pre-recorded programs are also offered year round and can be tailored to fit the needs of your group.

Virtual Small Group Programs

Run, Slither, Swim
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: K
NC Essential Standards: K.P.1.2, K.L.1.2

There are a lot of different types of animals in this world, and they all move in special ways! We’ll be slithering, fluttering, and crawling around the room in animal fashion and discovering an author who writes about how animals travel in this program focusing on body movement.

From Eggs to Legs
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: K-2nd
NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.2, 1.L.1.1, 2.L.1.1, 2.L.1.2

Metamorphosis in action! This interactive programs focuses on the life cycles of frogs and butterflies. Students will have the opportunity to get creative and move their bodies while reviewing the details of metamorphosis.

What's on the Menu?
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: K-6th
NC Essential Standards: K.L.1.2, 1.L.1.2, 2.L.1.2, 4.L.1.2, 5.L.2.2, EX.6.L.3
Program only available Tuesdays/Thursdays.

It's snack time at the Nature Center! This delicious program focuses on the diets of native reptiles and amphibians. We'll review their life cycles or where they fall in the food chain (dependent on grade level) and examine biofacts from our scaly and slimy friends. Students will also have the opportunity to watch a live reptile or amphibian feeding session!

Match the Life Cycle
(30 minutes)

Grade Level: 1st-3rd
NC Essential Standards: 2.L.1.1, 2.L.1.2

Every animal has a unique way of growing up! This program explores the life cycle of reptiles, birds, and mammals using an interactive memory card game. Put your students' memories to the test with this unique lesson!

Animal Inventors
(30-45 minutes)

Grade Level: 1st-5th
NC Essential Standards: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.2, 1.L.2.2, EX.2.L.1.1, EX.2.L.1.2, EX.2.L.2.1, EX.2.L.2.2

What if a fox could fly and breathe underwater? What sort of home does an owl with laser eyes live in? It's all up to you! Students will invent an animal and have the opportunity to share with the group. After sharing their creations, we'll compare them to the animals that live in Western North Carolina! Teachers choose a theme: adaptations or habitats.

Food Webs
(45 minutes)

Grade Level: 4th-6th
NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 5.L.2.1, 5.L.2.3, 6.L.2.1

This interactive review show how energy travels through an ecosystem. Students will be given the opportunity to create their own food chains and work with our educator to build a food web. We'll explore how all living things are connected and how important each link is within the web.

Ask a Zookeeper
(45 minutes)

Grade Level: K-12th


Have you ever wondered what a cougar eats or how to take care of a snake? Do your students want to know what it's like to work in a zoo or where our keepers went to college? Our educator will answer all your questions and more during this session! Get curious and come prepared with questions!

Virtual Auditorium Program - Fur, Feathers, and Scales

Grade Level: Variable
Program Length: 60 minutes
An opportunity for students to learn the importance of preservation and conservation through a one-hour presentation (45-minute presentation/15-minute Q&A) with two live animal guests and bio-facts, including animal skeletons, skins, feathers, skulls, and more. 

Recorded Programs

Grade Level: Variable
Program Length: 30-45 minutes
An unique opportunity to share an interactive animal education program with your facility! Recorded programs can be created around a variety of themes and include the following elements: Nature Center critter footage, bio-facts (wing, skulls, pelts, etc.), and two live animal ambassador spotlights! Please reach out to education@wildwnc.org for more details and to reserve a program.

Outreach Program or Distance Learning Virtual Program Reservation Inquiry

Please submit the requested information to inquire about having an offsite or distance learning program for your organization. Submitting this form does not guarantee your reservation. You may also email education@wildwnc.org to see about program availability.

To schedule an Outreach Program or Distance Learning Virtual Program, please email education@wildwnc.org or use the Outreach Program/Distance Learning Virtual Program Reserve Tab.

Outreach Program/Distance Learning Program Fees

Small Group Programs – Schools, Home School Groups, Private Facilities, & Government Agencies:

  • All Outreach Groups: $2/participant with a minimum of $50 per visit
  • Public Schools and Home School Groups: $50 for first virtual program; $25 for additional programs (Asheville City School programs are free)
  • Private Schools and Other Facilities: $75 for first virtual program; $25 for additional programs

Auditorium Programs:

  • $200 per live, virtual program
  • $350 per live outreach program in Buncombe County; $400 outside Buncombe County
 Recorded Programs:
  • $150 for 30 minute program
  • $200 for 45 minute program